Ideas for April

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Little Goals: a lot of these focus on the slowcooker, as I am trying to learn how to use it well.

Bake bread

Make a chicken & rice casserole

Make a chicken & quinoa casserole

Make a chicken lasagne (the only non-slowcooker dish here!!!)

Make a chicken and cornbread dish

And maybe some more slowcooker chicken… with ginger and coconut… or with soy glaze 

 

 

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My Learning from the Classroom

Time efficient strategies within the lesson

Things that take up time which takes away from teaching time: writing “no homework” notes in the journals when more than three have forgotten to complete their homework. Solution: order a “no homework” stamper so I can breeze around the room and stamp it in journals without breaking concentration or wasting class time!

Time efficient strategies long term

At the start of the year I had students do notes and homework in one copy and tests in another copy. This was impractical because (1) I had to remember to bring the box of copies if I wanted to give a test (2) I had to bring the box of copies home to correct and back again (3) if I asked them to bring the test copies home to show parents, when I gathered them all back again often several students would have lost them in the meantime.

Next year all my topic tests and end of term tests will be on photocopied sheets. I will have a folder where I record test results, which parents have signed test results, retests due, etc. If a test is especially bad or especially good and parents need to see it, I will post it home through the office with a note/school postcard/merit.

Consistency-helping strategies long term

They key to consistency is keeping it simple. What are the most important factors in an Irish classroom?

Homework (practice)

Homework that is routinely given, followed up on without fail, corrected with some feedback, and consequences given if neglected. I think the most efficient consequence for my students is requiring them to stay in at lunch or break to complete the missing homework and if they fail to show up I refer them to a formal detention. I found that students like to have me sit there and explain things and they will often stay longer than necessary because they like the attention.

Tests (assessment)

Tests after every topic. It is taking me a while to understand the practical balance between when formative assessment needs to pause and summative assessment is allowed to come in to empirically measure the progress. I am finding that at the most basic level, formative assessment can take the form of in-class questioning, checking homework and informal quizzes in desk pairs. Summative assessment has to take place at the end of a topic in the form of a traditional class test which gets graded. I have a mild fear of labelling students with grades because of a study I heard about in teaching college but I am overcoming this with the realisation that if I don’t have data or evidence about their success at learning, then I won’t always notice who needs help and when they are improving.

  • If students fail a test, they need to stay in at lunch and complete it again. Depending on the student, I will have them complete it with me helping, complete it as an open book assignment, or if they have revised independently, complete it as a retest.
  • In preparation for next year, I will make a sample class folder with tests (starting from back) with a pocket per topic including test, MS, test record sheet, pocket also for photocopies of each test, at back test record master sheet…

Consistency-helping strategies within the lesson

If a student comes in late they have to wait at the back of the room until given permission to go to their seat, they must leave their journal at my desk. I use “late for class” stamper in their journals and record in my lesson plan journal.

Set alarm five to eight minutes before the end of every lesson throughout day’s timetable. (Use tablet or iPad if possible rather than phone). When this alarm goes off I need to focus on:

Teacher tasks Student tasks
Assign and record homework

Record attendance

Record lesson work accomplished and still to do

Record behaviour

Consequences in journal

Discipline discussions with individual students

Homework written into journals

Review of learning:

o   Write out three main points learned today

o   Write out three Qs to assess today’s learning

o   Write out how you would explain today’s learning to your little brother

The when the school bell rings my students and I are ready to go to the next class, neither my students or I are kept back writing notes in journals, I won’t have to write up attendance retrospectively, I don’t have to ask the students “what did I give you for homework?!!” And no student can say they didn’t have a chance to write the homework in their journals!!!

What I learned from the past seven months of teaching

The year began when Tommy told me that the key thing is to endure. I thought about his words a lot, I kept them as the bottom line when all other words failed to motivate me. I just have to endure. I learned that I could endure anything by looking to Jesus. (here)

I feel like I have learned more in these seven months of teaching by experience, by trial and error, than in any previous season of teaching. I have survived. I woke up one morning recently and wondered at my lack of bouncing energy. And then the thought came that when you have survived a season, you rarely bounce over the finish line. You walk slowly and purposefully, with energy expenditure carefully measured and reserved.

I asked the Lord to revive me. Revive my energy and enthusiasm and expectancy. And I believe that He will. He enabled me to survive. After He revives me, He will enable me to thrive.

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I feel a calm content, a sort of immovable peace. Perhaps this is more valuable than bucket-loads of bouncing energy. This knowing that I can put one foot in front of another for what seems like an endless road, knowing that I can be quite content in prolonged challenge, or extended uncertainty or difficulty of indefinite duration, knowing that in Christ I can, this steadies me when I look into the utterly unclear future.

Because at no point did I rely on my own strength. Not one minute of this school year was lived without a conscious leaning on the Lord. The Lord never once let me down! He gave me every ounce of strength I needed! And having experienced this constant provision, I know by experience that I don’t need to fear anything on the horizon. Since nothing can separate me from His love, then no desert, no difficulty, no season will be able to separate me from His intense care and provision.

So in this note of humble victory I want to reflect on the practical things that I have learned this year.

I learned that I need time to wake up mentally before I am ready to engage with students. One week we had a lot of late evenings in school, I was tired and I wanted to catch up on sleep. So on the Thursday morning I slept until the last possible minute and just got into school on time. I wasn’t awake enough to cheerfully handle ordinary classroom challenges. So I never did that again. Better to wake up early and be alert for school.

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I learned that first thing in the morning is when my brain is at its freshest, sharpest, most efficient. While I need time to wake up to social alertness and to interact with others, my inside brain is at its prime first thing in the morning. On the other hand, my brain functions at about half speed in the evenings after a day of school. So I have concluded that next year I will divide my activities into morning and evening duties:

Morning Evening
High quality concentration

Tasks with creativity/initiative required

Low quality concentration

Monotonous tasks

Planning ahead, lesson preparation, reading through upcoming topics and summarising, making notes on a topic.

Creating topic tests and marking schemes.

Correcting tests using marking scheme

Correcting copies or homework for AfL

Reflecting on learning/mistakes/success

Attending evening classes

SAM_0198I learned that I need to have a balance between quick and easy meal options and meals that take more planning and preparation. Some evenings I need to eat immediately without spending time preparing, for example, if I have a lot of work to do or I am exhausted or I have to travel to an evening class soon after getting home. Other evenings it does me good to be creative and methodical in the kitchen, to use recipes and improvise and spend time detoxing from the day. So in my week I need to plan for both. I also realised that I can’t always anticipate when I will need to eat fast and when I will be able to enjoy cooking. So when planning meals and getting groceries I need to remember this.

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I learned that there are a few things (maybe a lot of things) that I am not naturally inclined to be consistent in. They never really bothered me or anyone else before, but now that I am a teacher, all of my flaws are on display under glaring fluorescent lights for an audience of up to two hundred young people plus their parents. So I need to get this right. No pressure. Although two days ago, just when I was finishing up with a class, and I must have been repeating something to a student, well he turned to me, sized me up with a sight squint and then slowly said “why do you have to be so annoyingly consistent about this?” HURRAY! He thinks I am consistent! Hallelujah! He made my day.

Summary:

Get up early enough so that I am alert and ready for social interaction.

Make the most of the times when my brain functions best.

Balance convenience with creativity in meal planning. Be realistic.

Identify important factors and be infinitely consistent in them. These will be the pillars that hold up the structure. I can be creative in the spaces around them. Without consistency there can be no creativity.

I also have made some notes about practical learning from the classroom which will follow in a few days… but first, here is a song I found just after I finished writing this. In Christ I have survived… but now He will enable me to thrive 🙂

Monday afternoon

The M&M’s are yellow and blue and green and orange and red against the purple-brown of the sensible Minstrels. They sit in a sparkling glass jam jar and the bright colours cheer me up almost as much as crunching the sugar shells into pieces.

In school this afternoon I discussed heroes and influence with twenty or so thirteen year olds. Their heroes are vibrant football players, established musicians, Mark Zuckerberg and Mother Teresa, Brian O’Driscoll and each other. I could identify some influences, had never heard of others. I was happy to see how many students mentioned their parents as people of influence in their lives.

Earlier today I was kindly told by a student that if I wanted to scream because of his behaviour, it was okay. “Go ahead and scream,” he said. How kind of him. I politely declined. He then proceeded to tell the class how he imagines that when I go home from school, I open the door and scream. And then I beat up a cat. I think I raised an eyebrow. This was quickly followed by earnest questioning about whether or not I had a cat. I sensed concern from some that it may be somewhat insulting to ask a young woman if she does in fact have a cat. I usually resort to aloof and snippy statements when I am out of my depth like this, but my coldness had no effect whatsoever on this group. In fact it only fuelled their agonising debate.

With my first cup of tea, I stood at the door of the house in the blustery midland weather and thanked the Lord that I was looking out on rain and not drought, safe garden walls and not imprisonment, scattered plant pots and not litter or rubbish or needles. Thanked the Lord that I was tired from a job, tired from the privilege of being employed.

My tea is strong and tastes of home. I make a second mug.

I stood in front of a fifth year class today, totally unprepared. I completely messed up a spontaneous explanation and had to tell them to forget it. It was so embarrassing. I could feel their eyes smiling at my defeat. But they weren’t really. And then one said, “It’s okay to make mistakes Miss, that’s how we learn.” She grinned, because she is usually the one on the other side of the exchange. And I sheepishly smiled, because I am not used to being exposed and embarrassed. And I muttered to myself as I walked out the door that it didn’t matter and I didn’t care. But it did matter and I did care. And because of that I decided I didn’t. But deep down I knew I really did.

I had a lesson with second years that went surprisingly well. They listened. They did what they were told. When we discussed our learning about the breathing system, they eagerly asked if they were improving and behaving the way I wanted. They apologised and spoke quietly. They laughed in comradery rather than as my jeering enemies. I held a stopwatch and they counted breaths per minute. Listening to their own breathing calmed them, I think.

What amazes me most about teaching is that in one afternoon I can experience the full spectrum of being embarrassed and being affirmed, being patronised and being admired, being defensive and being openly human. I can feel overwhelmed and then hopeful, feel utterly out of place and at the same time deeply rooted. I can experience complete failure and an hour later, sigh with the relief of success.

I’m just one person and this was just one afternoon. It was such a very human and imperfect performance. Such an ordinary, unspiritual experience and yet… I wonder how they would have reacted if they could have heard the silent storm inside. I was praying through every hour of it. “Come into this room Jesus, I need you here. Calm the kids Lord, I can’t get through to them. Go before me Lord, I am so nervous. Touch this group with your presence. Make them stop the messing Lord. Help me to have courage. Give me wisdom. I’m nearly out of patience Lord, I need patience quick!” And it comes and He comes and they never know the difference but when it is all over and I stand at the threshold with the rain throwing itself at the collapsed washing line and the trellis coming away from the wall with each gust, and I feel I should fall apart along with them, I don’t. His strength was made perfect in my weakness. My weakness is a glorious opportunity for me to see the power of Christ rest on me. So when I am weak, then I am strong.

Enjoy, Endure

The key thing is to endure

It was July and the roses were unfurling at the front door. My grandparents were visiting our home in the country for the last time together. We had no idea of this, and I happily sat out in the heat in a white, wide-brimmed sunhat with my grandfather. Later, sitting inside, we were all discussing an interview that I had been called to, discussing teaching, finding a job, starting a career. In the middle of the chatter of six women, Tommy, my grandfather would smile and this day he listened quietly, waited and then said something in a lull, something that I tucked away in my heart when I heard it, and something that has stayed with me all through this rough year of moving to a new town and teaching hordes of teenagers. He said “the key thing is to endure.”

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I am enabled to endure difficult circumstances when I consciously enjoy the company of Jesus

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1, 2 NKJV

The key thing is to endure. Jesus endured. Jesus endured the ultimate test of pain and difficulty, the cross. My example of endurance to emulate is found in Jesus:

How did Jesus endure?

“Jesus… for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross…“

Jesus endured the cross by looking ahead to the joy that was set before Him.

How am I to endure?

“Let us run with endurance… looking unto Jesus”

I am enabled to endure by looking to Jesus.

How is it that I am enabled to endure by looking to Jesus?

Psalm 16:11 tells me that in the presence of Jesus I will find fullness of joy.

Nehemiah 8:10 tells me that the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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I want to have the strength to endure.

It is Christ who gives me the strength I need to endure.

The strength that He gives me is His joy.

~

So to be strengthened to endure, I must be filled with the joy of the Lord.

To be filled with the joy of the Lord, I must be in His presence;

I must sit in His company, aware of His closeness to me. This will fill me with joy.

In the presence of the Lord I find joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. When I am strong in the joy of the Lord, I am strong enough to endure whatever is in front of me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I can be sure that Jesus is present with me at all times and in every circumstance because

“He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””(Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)

And also because “He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”” (Exodus 33:14 NKJV)

The writer of Hebrews encourages me as a believer to be diligent to enter His rest. (Hebrews 4:11 NKJV).

Where can my spirit find true rest? only in the Presence of the Lord.

In the old testament when God said “My Presence will go with you,”

He promised that the gift of rest would accompany the gift of His Presence.

In the new testament Jesus said “come to me… and you will find rest for your souls.”

So you see, “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands.” Hebrews 4:1 NLT

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

“So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God… they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. ” Hebrews 4: 2, 3, 6 NLT

I must be obedient to believe the words of Jesus, I must be diligent to act on them and come to Him.

I must be diligent to cherish and appreciate this miracle of the nearness of a holy God to me.

I must always acknowledge the astonishing fact that the almighty Creator chooses to be near me and remain with me forever.

The safety, the security of this knowledge allows my soul to be at peace.

“my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me”

Psalm 16:9,10 NIV

So as I come to Him and stay walking with Him, in obedience, I will enter His place of rest which He has prepared “since he made the world… there for people to enter”… and “still waiting for the people of God” Hebrews 4:3, 6, 9 NLT

Thinking about my own experience, I become tired and unwilling to endure when I have been deprived of rest. I become encouraged and willing to keep going when I have been given sufficient time to rest. So it follows that my mind and heart can endure when my mind and heart are at rest.

My spirit is enabled to endure when I live in the restfulness of His Presence.

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When my spirit remains in a place of rest, I can never become worn out.

When my spirit is being continually filled with joy, I can never become weak, because His joy is my strength.

When my heart is resting in Jesus, full of the joy of knowing Him, I will always be strong to endure.

~

As I live in the conscious company of Jesus, as I remember that He is always near me, as I tell Him my heart’s every thought, as I read His words and learn His ways and hear His voice, I will find rest so I will not be weary and I will find joy so I will not be discouraged.

(Consider Him who endured… lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls Hebrews 12:3 NKJV)

In this place of rest and joy I will know His strength, and in this strength I will always be able to endure.

Instead of restlessness, always restfulness.

Instead of always looking for joy, always knowing fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

In rest and joy enabled to endure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, let’s look back at Psalm 16: 8-11 NIV

Looking unto Jesus

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.

(NKJV I have set the Lord always before me,

AMP I have set the Lord continually before me)

With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Joy

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

Rest

my body also will rest secure,

(NKJV My flesh also will rest in hope,

AMP my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety)

Why?

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

(“I will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)

(“My Presence will go with you” Exodus 33:14 NKJV)

Joy

You make known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

So, you see, the effects of the presence of God on my life are twofold. First, in the presence of God I will find rest for my soul. And in the presence of God I will find deep joy, a joy that strengthens my soul and enables me to endure.

On books and blogging and reading

Emily, please don’t stop blogging.

I remember lying on my tummy on the floor as an eight year old with my face in a book about a boy in West Kerry called Patsy O and then getting a pain in my shoulder as a nine year old for staying in the same curled up position for too long on the couch reading about Laura Ingalls in the Big Woods and the vast prairie and then trying to figure out how to lie down and still read Janette Oke’s carefully written romances through my new glasses without the pillow pushing them across my face as a teenager. I remember slipping away from the sandwiches and orange juice after the meeting on a sunny Sunday afternoon to sit in the car and devour the first Christy Miller book I had found wedged behind some devotionals on the church library shelves. I remember crying convulsively and running to wash my face before anyone saw me as I identified with Jo March’s crises in Little Women. I remember, first timidly and then confidently, approaching the town librarian with lists of book requests to order from the city library because I had read everything available on the small town library shelves for my age group and all the age groups below me and several above me (well, anything that wasn’t horror, which narrowed the selection down considerably). I remember when somebody’s mother would recommend a book like What Katy Did and I would discover books that were godly and true and lovely and noble and honourable and I remember reading and reading and reading them through.

My sisters and I have reread our beloved books from cover to cover, we all have different volumes that we have worn thin, but I remember a time when the supply of books quietly dried up and for a few years I concentrated on my studies and, instead of flying through fiction in my free time, I devoured paper and words for exam technique and grades. There is a season for everything and that season was good.

But the supply of books had dried up for me for two reasons. First of all, living on the side of a hill in a bog in West Limerick doesn’t place you in the front receiving line for fresh new Christian publications. You have to actively seek out and usually order from abroad good wholesome Christian books if you want to read them. Maybe I had read through my quota early, but I remember going to the bookshelves at home and the bookshelves at church and realising I had read my way through.

Books cost money. In a previous season, we could save up enough to afford to order books from the BJU catalogue or order them from the larger stock of the Christian bookshop in Dublin. But in the season that began in those years when I was staring at the shelves willing new books to appear, in the season that we still find ourselves in, money was, and is reserved for things like bread for sandwiches and milk and teabags and apples for the lunchboxes. And then when I went to college, and later when three of us sisters were in university at once, there just wasn’t the luxury of splashing out on a new book just for the sake of an afternoon or two of happy reading. Scholarship money is heaven sent for textbooks and groceries to keep your brain alive through the week, but there isn’t a whole lot left over for novels or even the latest Christian release.

So what did I read? In university I once again remembered my voracious appetite for words and writing and I had a laptop now, and for the first time, internet that didn’t sound like dial up but actually loaded text and pictures onto my screen in real time. In this new era of access I discovered a new world of words and voices in the form of chapters of varying lengths on as many topics and themes as I could think to look for.

As a terrified college student trying to stay dry as I tramped through city streets to lectures in the rain and grabbing a mental break from study in the cold library when I didn’t know anyone to go for coffee with and trying not to talk to myself as I processed the unexpected trauma of it all, I fell in love with the happy, crafty, honest world of mommy blogs. In the whirlwind of assignments and exam cramming I found a world of writer’s blogs where I could escape for free to forget the stress for a minute or five and unwind in a devotional blogpost or a thought-thrown-out-there blogpost or just a here’s-how-my-day-went post. The lonely part of my soul found friendly voices, the starved reader in me found words and themes to think on, the creative part of me found ideas and companionship and the part of me longing for Jesus found the voices of others longing for him too.

You see if you save up to buy a book, you want to know that the money you spend will be well spent on a good book, a book that you will enjoy, and learn from and grow with, and buying a book like that is a risk every time. But in this new world of blogs I found that I could listen to other voices and learn from others’ experiences, without having to spend money I didn’t have.

And in these penny-pinching years of student loan repayments, I find reams of reading material online where I would be starved of words otherwise.

But there is more. On the days when I come home from the often intellectually mundane task of teaching contained, prescribed thoughts to uninterested students and my brain wants to engage with something more challenging, I scour someone’s blog for thoughts to ponder and discussions to drift through. When I am lonely in my house as a single young woman in a new town full of strangers and staring students, when I long for conversation about something other than the weather and the water charges I check up on the familiar face of a blog for a bit of news or a new thought shared or even just a photo of their kitchen. Speaking of kitchen, as a young person learning to live, I am scouring all of the blogs in the world for recipes to repeat and photos to admire and mostly mistakes to learn from.

So Emily, don’t stop blogging because blogs are different from books, but equally as important. Blogs are books in their own right, continuous books that are never finished, more true to life than tidy published works. Like our experiences and our threads of thoughts, blogs expand and develop and produce offshoots of fruits like tidy published works whose ideas and philosophies were born and nurtured in the ordinary thinking, whose backbone of big ideas were framed through writing small thoughts and hitting publish, and edit, and letting the thought lay low, and then writing another. When I need fresh ideas and I can’t afford a new book I can read the archives of a good blog from first post to yesterday’s post or think through the themes of the blog, article by article.

And Emily, don’t stop blogging because blogging occupies a different sphere to Instagram and instant anything. Yes we will enjoy our small screens and snapshots on the train but then we will all go home and before we wind down (or in order to wind down) we will need to read something longer and slower. To have a healthy adult mind I need to chew on something, read it through to the finish. Sometimes small-screen capsules of thoughts seem coldly similar to platitudes or pithy phrases and I have never been good at swallowing those. I need to hear someone explain the story behind the silver lining statement; need to read about the mistakes before the mastery.

So Emily, and all the writers like you, please listen when I say, don’t stop blogging. We are reading! Silent listeners we are, but grateful ones.

Crunchy Cheesy Pasta

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There is a recipe in my Rachel Allen Everyday Food cookbook called Crunchy Mac and Cheese. For some reason, it was something I wanted to do from scratch ever since I got the book. But you can’t make a big dish of bubbling mac n cheese for yourself all alone, so I waited until I got home for the holidays. This afternoon I tried it. It looked great. It tasted good too, just not as showstopping as I had expected. I would add more pasta next time because the pasta to sauce ratio was a little heavy on the saucy side. But the breadcrumbs were very good. Out of the four sisters who ate it, two were happy, one left most of it on her plate (!) and the other went back for seconds.

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Millionaire’s Shortbread

Another little goal accomplished. I can’t believe how satisfying it feels to add it to my very short list of completed dishes. It’s the little things.

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I used Rachel Allen’s recipe in Everyday Food, which is also available here on the rte food website.

Swirling the chocolate was the most enjoyable part.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy to add this to my pinned there done that board. 🙂

By the way we smashed our gingerbread house. It was fun and delicious.

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Christmas Baking

Christmas Baking

Christmas Baking: Candy Cane Krispie Cupcakes

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Christmas Cupcakes with Marshmallow Snow

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Christmas Baking: Butterscotch Apple Pudding

Christmas Baking

The day before Christmas Eve my parents had guests coming over so I took the chance to make some recipes which I wouldn’t usually make alone. I had made candy cane krispie treats last year taking my inspiration from this recipe and decided to develop the theme a little. I portioned out the mixture into bun cases instead of a slab/large dish. I topped some with melted marshmallow to look like snow and then popped a mini candy cane on top. They were very sticky and very sweet but looked great! 🙂

I also took the opportunity to make a Rachel Allen recipe which I have wanted to make for a long time: Butterscotch Apple Pudding (Everyday Food). It was delicious, and tasted like warm toffee, apples and cake in a bowl served with whipped cream on top. I would make this again for guests.

I also made Rachel Allen’s Spanish Chicken (Everyday Food) for the dinner, which was so easy to make for a crowd: I just doubled the quantities she called for. It was also very popular.

My sisters and I attacked a gingerbread house kit with lots of royal icing and too many sweets and four different ideas of what a gingerbread house should look like. The result:

Christmas House

Christmas House

Christmas house

Christmas House

I am hoping to continue with developing my kitchen repertoire. I don’t publish them all here because school nights are very busy but I am compiling a list of completed dishes.

I pin a lot of recipes on my Pinterest boards so please feel free to help yourself to a pin or two!

I am also very excited that my Christmas present from my parents this year was a slow cooker. My sisters are still shaking their heads in disbelief but I am excited to learn to use it well. I hope to make homemade stock and soups and a lot of good casseroles in it. I think I will start with this one from Simply Recipes.

I hope anyone who is reading this enjoyed a peaceful Christmas and is hopeful for good things to happen and good habits to be formed in 2015.

🙂

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Laughing and crying and laughing again {who I am today}

Nutella and wholegrain bread sandwiches;

Mashed potatoes and tea by the mug.

When I’m tired of tea, then lemon and honey tea steaming my cobwebs away.

Routine and looking forward to reading my Bible.

Recognising with some perplexity that I am keeping up with my laundry and groceries and even learning new recipes on weeknights. What is happening to me?

Teaching and planning and then making it up as I go along as I give up and laugh with the friendly hooligans that some call students (the word “student” implies study and is therefore for the most part inappropriate).

Ignoring the cloud hanging over my head that says any respectable twenty four year old should be able to drive. I’ll start tomorrow. Or the next day. Just can’t face it today.

Mad dashes to get it all done and then evenings where my motivation and energy are somewhere at the bottom of the recycling bin, underneath the paper cuttings and used up glue sticks.

Cacophony and then quiet, battlefield and monotony, welcome distraction and then pleasant predictability. I never know which will be next.

It’s an enigma, this adult life where I am the teacher, the wise one, the one who leads a group of wildly different people forward in their understanding of the world, in their realisation of their potential, in just getting them happily through the next forty minutes.

Moments where I feel I have utterly failed as a teacher. Planning and forgetting. Facepalm moments every hour. Assigning homework and then realising I should have corrected it in class while I’m cooking dinner that evening. Wondering if somebody presses the mute button on the remote every time I start to speak because the phrase “in one ear, and out the other” certainly applies here. and here. and here. Oh help. I’ll stop thinking about it.

Feeling both elated and frustrated in the same thirty seconds.

Leaving the school chuckling about some comment one of the kids threw out.

Sitting at the table at home doing anything but correcting that tedious test twenty six times over. Wishing for automated homework correction. Oh bring it on.

Getting creative with lesson planning and being the laughing stock of the seasoned senior students. They have seen it all. I will try no more. I will bore them to tears and then I will cry myself. But at least they won’t be laughing.

Waking up and hoping again and trying again and the cycle repeats again.

Laughing, always laughing. It’s either laugh or cry, and I know which I would rather do.

Throwing my hands up in the air at the old idea I had that I would ever become I strict schoolmarm.

I am not a strict schoolmarm. I may be one by the time I am eighty four. But by then I will have got so used to laughing that I won’t want to be a strict schoolmarm anymore. It’s all so disillusioning. It’s all so enlightening. It’s all so very different to what I expected. And yet it is exactly what I should have expected.

This is who I am today. Horizons unfold and I follow.